I was wondering if anyone of you could help me or give me some advice with the following situation:

I am an Austrian citizen currently living with my American girlfriend in the US. In early March I am going to move to Berlin for work, while she stays back in the US for a couple of months. In Summer however, I'd like her to join me in Berlin for several months, and maybe even permanently (thought that's not decided yet).

My main concern is, will she somehow be able to work as well when she eventually follows me to Berlin?

We were talking about getting married for a while now. And after reading this page (Link 1) and this page (Link 2) it seems that getting married would be a legitimate option to enable her to look for work in Germany (remember, I am Austrian and hence EU laws would apply). Please correct me if I have misinterpreted things.

Lastly, does it matter where we would get married? Because we might actually do it while I am still here in the US, as long as Germany/EU recognizes our marriage.

Thank you very much for all your help and guidance!

2 Answers 2


Your understanding seems to be correct. EU freedom of movement rights extend to non-EU family members who accompany EU citizens. Under these rights, non-EU family members have a right to work, just as EU citizens do.

You might be able to qualify as family members without getting married, but it will certainly be simpler if you do get married.

You can get married anywhere, but if you marry in the US (or anywhere outside the EU), you'll need to do a bit of paperwork to get the marriage license "legitimized" for use in Germany. I did this in New York City, for example, and it was fairly painless. They seem to do it frequently enough that they know just which office you need to go to next; if I recall correctly, they even have a sheet with step-by-step instructions.

If you get married in a smaller jurisdiction, however, you may have to do a little more work to find out the procedures you need to follow.

In case you choose to marry in Austria, I do not know whether there would be a similar procedure necessary to legitimize the Austrian document for the German authorities. I've seen something about doing away with these sorts of things within the EU, but I don't know whether it has been enacted.

  • Or you could get married in Germany, which means one of you must be resident where the marriage takes place, and the marriage must fulfil all legal requirements according to German, Austrian, and US law.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 19:08

My (now ex) girlfriend, a US citizen, came to live in Berlin by herself and got a work permit without any problem whatsoever and got it extended multiple times. In fact, authorities seem keen to acquire qualified workers and keep them in Germany - I'm guessing tax payers are very welcome. This is by far not as strict as applying for a visa in the US.

If your girlfriend has a job offer, just get in touch with the Ausländerbehörde and file the application. You'll be fine.

  • 3
    Qualified is doing a lot of work here. There are indeed reasonable options in some cases (say working in IT with a salary above a certain threshold) but even if they are not as restrictive as in the US, the rules are, in fact, quite strict.
    – Gala
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 20:16

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